Outdoor lighting buying guide
The right outdoor lighting can help you enjoy your garden for longer as well as keeping you safe and secure. Whether you’re looking for soft mood lighting to entertain your guests al fresco, pools of light to highlight garden features, little lights to create a safe garden path or a security light to discourage intruders, we have the right lights for you.
Regardless of the size of your garden, patio or balcony, the right lighting can help you to instantly transform your outdoor space into a more welcoming area that you’ll want to spend time in.
There are three main types of garden lighting:
- Task or functional lighting is ideal for entrances, paths, patios, garages and sheds.
- Accent lighting helps to create mood and highlight decorative parts of the garden such as plants, trees, ponds or sculptures.
- Security lighting is perfect for any areas you need an extra bright light to discourage intruders
What are the different types and styles of garden and outdoor lighting?
These types of lights can be placed in or near entrance ways, in porches, garages and sheds, and are perfect for giving you and your guests some much-needed illumination when entering and leaving your property.
Lantern-style wall lights create an inviting feel, whilst flush-fitted wall lights are an ideal option for the side of your home or above a back door.
Pathways, driveways, patio and decking light
Your paths, driveways, steps and seating areas are all places that will definitely benefit from a little extra illumination. A single floodlight is perfect for lighting up larger areas, whilst rows of deck lights can be used to mark out a path or decking section.
The best choice for those who wish to add atmosphere and drama in their garden – accent lighting is great for highlighting individual features and creating a real focal point.
If you want to draw attention to certain plants, ponds, sculptures or features, spotlights are a superb option. Place them near the base of your feature or under foliage for an intense, focused beam, or mount two spotlights either side of the feature for a softer, more flattering effect.
Threads of coloured lights strung across patios and trellises, or through trees and shrubs are ideal for parties and al fresco dining. They’re also easy to use - simply plug them into a power point, and you’re good to go. Your guests will love them.
A cost-effective, high visibility deterrent, security lights are perfect for protecting valuables stored in outbuildings, and for making would-be burglars think twice before targeting your home. Activated by either heat or movement, they illuminate a wide area in a bright light, drawing attention to any undesirables.
Security light fittings can include either a built-in PIR detector, or a stand-alone detector. To stop intruders interfering with security lighting, it’s important to mount your detector at least 2m from the ground. You can also invest in lights with a manual override facility, allowing for a constant source of light.
An eco-friendly alternative to traditional lighting – energy-efficient garden lighting can save you up to 80% in running costs.
Solar lighting doesn’t require electricity, making them a practical and extremely environmentally friendly option that you can place anywhere. Powered by specially designed batteries that store energy from the sun during the day and automatically switch on at dusk, solar lights providing a soft glow for several hours at night.
When placing solar lights, it’s a good idea to position them in a sunny spot, so they get a full charge during the day. They are also great for entertaining areas, helping to provide low-level accent lighting throughout the evening.
What should I consider when buying garden and outdoor lighting?
There are many different factors to consider when choosing garden and outdoor lighting:
- Sizing: larger areas work well with floodlights, whilst smaller areas, such as entrance ways are more suited to task lighting
- Function and appearance: decorative lighting, although easy on the eye, won’t deter intruders – think about what you're trying to achieve and make sure you’ve got the right lighting for your intended purpose.
The type you choose will be largely determined by the size and type of the space you intend to illuminate. A few important things to remember include:
- When using task lighting, it’s a good idea to position switches close to the areas they’re being used in – this will save you a lot of fumbling about.
- Position deck lights into deck floors carefully to avoid glare. Opt for adjustable deck lights for extra flexibility.
- Security light fittings with either a built-in PIR detector or a stand-alone detector can be fitted to a number of lights surrounding your home for all-round protection.
What bulbs should I choose?
When choosing bulbs, the most important factors to consider are the size and type, and for safety reasons, you’ll need to make sure they’re suitable for outdoor use. After that, you’ll want to ensure that they are the right brightness level for your application – after all, no one wants to be blinded when enjoying their nice evening drinks.
Typical fittings include Bayonet Cap (BC), Small Bayonet Cap (SBC), Edison Screw (ES or E27) and Small Edison Screw (SES or E14). Before buying bulbs, check the packaging. If your chosen lights don’t already come with bulbs, the bulb type you’ll need to buy will be clearly labelled on the box.
What safety tips should I follow?
When investing in garden and outdoor lighting, it’s sensible to ensure lighting is weatherproof, waterproof and safe for the purpose you’re using it for. The correct lighting will allow you to create the picture-perfect outdoor space you’ve always dreamed of.
How should I install my garden and outdoor lights?
Unless you’ve bought low-voltage or solar lighting, it’s a good idea to invest in the services of a reputable, fully qualified electrician, who will be able to install your outdoor and garden lighting safely, and in accordance to the manufacturer’s instructions.
How can I create ambience with lighting?
Outdoor and garden lighting can be used to create a number of different effects, and the possibilities are pretty much endless. Spotlights on fences and trellis will create intimate pools of light, whilst lighting placed near water can produce spectacular, magical reflections. Candle-lit hanging lanterns will create an intimate, warm mood.
Have fun with it, and you’ll be able to create your perfect outdoor space in no time.
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